STUDY Marijuana may help those who struggle with Alcohol and Drug Addictions

Marijuana could help those who struggle with addiction by replacing the need for more harmful substances, according to recent studies.


The latest data, published in the journal Addiction Research & Theory, came from a survey of more than 400 medical cannabis patients across four dispensaries in B.C. When asked whether they ever used cannabis to replace pharmaceuticals, alcohol or illicit drugs, over 75% said they did.  


The largest portion, 68%, indicated using cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs. 41% also said they used it for alcohol and 36% for other illicit substances, such as heroin or cocaine. 


Philippe Lucas, study co-author and research affiliate of the Centre for Addictions Research of BC, says the findings support cannabis as a potential treatment for drug addiction. He believes cannabis could act as an ‘exit drug’ when it comes to substance abuse – as opposed to a gateway.  


But more research needs to be done, since the study was only meant to identify a substitution effect and did not attempt to quantify it. Still, Lucas, who first came across the idea through his involvement with the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, believes there is now strong evidence that a substitution effect exists.


But the study was not the first to describe the phenomenon. In fact, it was conducted, in part, to replicate past work by another one of the study’s co-authors, Amanda Reiman of The School of Social Welfare at University of California, Berkeley.  


Reiman, who is also involved with the Drug Policy Alliance, published two studies on cannabis substitution between 2000-2009. 


Read More: Leaf Science

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